Looking for recommendations for books of short stories. I’m a relative newcomer to reading (as a hobby/pass time), despite being in my 40s with quite a short attention span.
Have just finished Andy K’s unknown pleasures and read Eiger Dreams a few years ago and really like the format for a bedtime read and when I don’t have the capacity for something more committing.
Climbing/adventure/outdoor related or not, what would people recommend?
Stanley Donwood (album artist for Radiohead) has produced a few books of short stories. All of which have rather dark/bizarre themes which are often funny. I really enjoyed "household worms".
Nothing to do with climbing but I found Chuck Palahniuk's book "Haunted" a great collection of short stories set amongst an overarcing tale, they can be read individually or as a whole. His other book of short stories "Make something up" is worth a look too.
Not a short story but for a really good well written book id highly recommend Andy Caves "Learning to Breathe". Husband isn't a reader but really enjoyed this and the writing style flows well so it isn't arduous reading, also being a subject you have interest in will help to keep you motivated.
Mildly surprised that no one has recommended Stephen King's Skeleton Crew. I'm no horror fan but someone got me to read it and I was very impressed. Think Twilight Zone levels of weird/slightly disquieting rather than gore-being chased stuff.
He's responsible for writing far more great films than people realize.
I’ve been on a Stephen King binge recently and loving it with the shining, misery, the green Mile and their respective films. I’d not come across this one. Thanks!
Thanks all for the great suggestions. I’ve managed to find a number of them used on eBay for a few quid each so have probably a years worth of reading heading my way
If you're up for something a bit fantastical, you could do a lot worse that having a look at Neil Gaiman. (Starting with 'Smoke and Mirrors'.)
You can read "The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains" for free online, and it's a cracker.
(Not straight off the website maybe, ugh - I'd copy/paste and print it out if I were you.)
There is a bit of mountaineering, kinda sorta - the 'action' is set on a certain mystical island just off the West coast of Scotland, long before there was any talk of a bridge. (Before the island could even reliably be found there all the time.)
The Complete Doctor Stories: The Ridiculous Mountains AND Nothing So Simple as Climbing Paperback – 1 Dec. 1997
by G.J.F. Dutton (Author), Albert Rusling (Illustrator)
Not hilarious but amusing and entertaining. You can pick up a copy for less than £1 on Amazon.
Get into your local charity bookshops and ask for short stories! Here are some more classical ones than so far posted:
Somerset Maugham short story collections.
Leslie Charteris: the Saint series, they're novels, but short, light weight and a lot of fun, much better than the TV series which avoided the fact that Simon Templar was a crook.
James Blish: Seedling Stars - science fiction.
The late Anne Sauvy wrote two volumes of mountaineering short stories well worth reading: "The Game of Mountain and Chance" and "Flammes de Pierre".
Both published in the UK by Ken Wilson who was apparently a fan.
I'm a little hooked on the Russian authors. I read and liked Turgenev in the past, and more recently have been interested in Tolstoy. 2 collections both entitled The death of Ivan Ilych and other stories. The other stories are different in each volume. The thing that I'm interested in is Tolstoy's view/approach to women ( a little strange), and of course death.
I've yet to read Chekhov (my friend bought me a collection for Christmas), though I know a couple of the plays.
> I got given Ian Rankin’s compilation of Rebus short stories for Christmas and it’s a good read. Funnier than the novels. “The Beat Goes On”
There's also a 2nd Rebus collection called 'Beggars Banquet'
I was going to say the same, although it is long since I read any of them. I was interested most in Tolstoy's view of history. Or maybe it was Berlin's take on it that interested me. Can't remember.
Other short story writers worth a look at are DH Lawrence, if you get him the German writer Ingo Schulze for 33 Moments of Happiness, and WG Sebald, another German who spent much of his life in Britain. His The Emigrants isn't short stories as such, but is four short episodes of the lives of Jews who survived the war but never got over it. A fantastic collection I read some time ago was Summerhouse Later by Judith Hermann, at that time a young writer making her debut. Also Lorrie Moore's Birds of America made an impression on me when I read it.
My personal favourites:
Classic climbing and mountaineering in gorgeous prose: Mountaineering in Scotland and Undiscovered Scotland by W H Murray;
Sci-fi: Selected Stories of Philip K Dick: an excellent introduction to his visionary work, featuring a number of classics that have inspired movies like Minority Report and Total Recall;
Watch the birth of a modernist master: Slow Learner by Thomas Pynchon;
The greatest short story collection in the English language: Dubliners by James Joyce.
+1 vote for Neil Gaiman. I really enjoy his style of storytelling and the type of stories he tells. I've listened to more of his work on Audible than I have read it (he's a brilliant narrator), but would recommend him to anyone that doesn't mind the idea of fantasy.
I think the biggest collection of his short stories is called 'The Neil Gaiman Reader', and I'd probably recommend that as the short story collection to buy as it's got a great range, including most of his well known ones I think.
> I think the biggest collection of his short stories is called 'The Neil Gaiman Reader', and I'd probably recommend that as the short story collection to buy as it's got a great range, including most of his well known ones I think.
Oh yes - I just had a look at what's in it and it seems to have all my favourites. If it's not twice the price it looks like a much better buy than 'Smoke and Mirrors'.
The Golden Apples of the Sun is a collection of 22 short stories by Ray Bradbury. If you only ever read one short story collection in your life it should be this one. All of human life and motivation, the magic and wonder of it, set against a background of small town America.
The Elephant Vanishes is a great intro to Haruki Murakami, if you've not read other books of his before. Personally I'm a big fan, I love his unique descriptions and the blend of realism into surrealism.
> Roald Dahl's various non children's books.
OP, you're going to get soooooo many reccos. You really do need to decide what you like. Also short stories cover a huge range of lengths. "The grasshopper and the bell cricket" is superb...but only a few pages. "Cannery Row" is equally superb and a couple of hours' read.
If your tastes extend to the fantastic -
Seeds of time, John Wyndham
Unlikely stories, mostly - Alistair gray
> Borges. The Aleph is good, can't remember the other one.
Staying on the magical realism theme, I'd recommend Beside the Ocean of Time, by George Mackay Brown which although actually a novel, it's kind of also a collection of short stories in a way and what's more it's fantastic.
David Quammen writes wonderfully quirky stories about nature and evolutionary biology.
Flight of the Iguana and Natural Acts are great collections of short stories.
If you want to read a longer and very relevant book that is arguably a set of related short stories, check out Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic which is about zoonotic diseases. Written post-SARS but pre-COVID.
If you like dark, funny stuff, David Gaffney's books of very short stories, Sawn-off Tales, Aromabingo, and The Half-life of Songs are brilliant. Alexei Sayle is a great short story writer too.
> I’ve been on a Stephen King binge recently and loving it with the shining, misery, the green Mile and their respective films. I’d not come across this one. Thanks!
> Thanks all for the great suggestions. I’ve managed to find a number of them used on eBay for a few quid each so have probably a years worth of reading heading my way
Don't forget The Shawshank Redemption, also a King novella.
I really love Borges and found that once I started reading him, he began to appear everywhere somehow. Guess he was good at writing those fancies and daydreams we all have appear in our mind from time to time.
These are from different collections:
Ernest Hemingway https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Two-Hearted_River
Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’ youtube.com/watch?v=48-A3p3VPD0& (1/6)
Kafka’s The Sons comprises two short stories & a novella, which I prefer to his other collections: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=KQjbNP-8mnIC (selective preview)
For science fiction I can really recommend the following anthology:
My copy is worn out from reading it again and again.... The Greg Bear story "Judgement Engine" is the most mind blowing piece (in terms of scope) of SF I have ever read. Actually, one other story ("The Days of Solomon Gursky") in the same anthology comes close.
As a selfish thread hijack, if anyone knows that book, I would appreciate recommendations for books in the same style.
> One Man's Mountains. Good call.
The Art of Down Climbing Gracefully and The Shape of Things to Come are both brilliant bits of satire. Might have to re-read them in the near future!
Not short stories per se but both books you can read in an evening, especially if you like Wasp Factory type oddness.
Fallow by Daniel Shand
The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills.
Also, I stayed in an Airbnb recently and there was a book by comedian Limmy called Daft Wee Stories. Mostly really good, very short, read while on the bog type stories. Generally gentle humour, a bit like his act.